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NATO’s leaders met on Friday to work out the details of a flight ban over Libya after the U.N. Security Council gave the international community a mandate to protect civilians under attack by government forces. Although it is a complex military operation, but the United States and its allies have accomplished similar feats more than once in recent history.
In 1991, the United States, United Kingdom, France, Turkey and other states intervened in Kurdish-Iraqi dispute in northern Iraq by establishing a no-fly zone in which Iraqi aircraft were prevented from flying. The intent of the no-fly zone was to prevent possible bombing and chemical attacks against the Kurdish people by the Iraqi regime.
Operation Sky Monitor was a NATO mission to monitor unauthorized flights in the airspace of Bosnia-Herzegovina during theBosnian War.During Operation Sky Monitor, aircraft operated in two “orbits”, one over the Adriatic established on October 16, and a second one over Hungary, established with the permission of the Hungarian government on October 31. Both of these orbits operated 24 hours a day, providing constant surveillance of Bosnian airspace.
Alliance military planners said they could deploy dozens of fighter-bombers, AWACS, fuel tankers, and unmanned drones to a string of air bases along Europe’s southern perimeter from which to send patrols over Libya.
Huffington post reports
Maintaining the zone will require aerial refueling tankers, as well as radar-monitoring AWACS(Airborne Warning and Control System) command aircraft, to manage the complex choreography of inbound and outbound aircraft, and JSTARS (Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System) jets. The latter craft are modified Boeing 707 airliners packed with electronics that enable onboard analysts to find, identify, track and target individual tanks and other armored vehicles. That target data is passed on to the precision-guided weapons that are launched from strike aircraft.
It is likely that the United States will provide AWACS and JSTARS as well as aerial refueling tankers, while the British and French contribute strike fighters, although U.S. Air Force and Navy jets are positioned to fly missions as well.
An initial strike package of jets designed to jam and destroy enemy radar would precede the establishment of a no-fly zone. But the JSTARS can provide surveillance and targeting from outside Libyan missile range — and unmanned drone aircraft could be used as well to avoid the remote possibility of having pilots shot down over Libya.
These operations could cost between $100 million and $300 million per week, depending on the number of aircraft involved, according to an analysis by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a Washington think tank.
If Gaddafi refuses to obey a cease-fire order, the international coalition could agree on a hard strike against airfields and armored columns, troop barracks, military headquarters and other military facilities that already have been identified and targeted. A full-out strike might cost between $500 million and $1 billion, according to the CSBA analysis.
Some of that tab might be picked up by Arab states in the Persian Gulf, which have promised to help.